I was poking around in an empty lot today about a mile from downtown when I heard a clicking sound. I looked up and saw this owl staring at me. It was snapping its beak and may have been defending a nest. I took the picture and bailed before the confrontation escalated.

I also took a short hike today with my wife and two daughters. Dusk is the best time to hike because the nocturnal wildlife is waking up, and for a brief period, you will see twice as much traffic.

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Kids love bugs. If you have kids, bookmark this site. Note the comments on the photo of the Japanese beetles while you are there. My oldest daughter (now a young woman at the college we were visiting for parents’ day) was the hand model for the photos of the tarantula, mantis, and giant black-faced spider shown below:

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The male tarantula just sauntered by. They wander around in the fall looking for a little action. When they find a female, either they get lucky or they get ate.

She knew better than to pick up the scorpion or bombardier beetle (often touted as evidence against the theory of evolution). We also have a no snake-catching rule while visiting here. Many are poisonous and can be hard to identify at a glance. We saw no snakes, but we knew they were around because we did find a freshly shed skin of a three-foot-long specimen.

We have also counted four species of lizards to date.

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Preserving biodiversity isn’t technically difficult. All you have to do is acquire, protect, and interconnect habitat. It is mostly a matter of money and political will, as are most environmental issues. Economic growth is a fine thing if we can just find ways to do it that do not consume ecosystems and biodiversity. The urban sprawl here is horrific, gobbling up habitat at a furious rate. More pictures later.